A SPANISH Roman Catholic priest, Fr Miguel Pajares, has become
the first European to die of the Ebola virus, as the outbreak in
West Africa continues to spread.
Fr Pajares, who died on Tuesday in hospital in Madrid, was 75.
He caught the virus in Liberia, where he had been working as a
missionary, helping to treat Ebola patients in the capital,
More than 1000 people have now died from the disease since the
epidemic first began in February, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra
Leone, and Nigeria.
Fr Pajares was treated with the experimental drug ZMapp. Two US
aid workers who caught Ebola in Africa have also been treated with
ZMapp in the United States, and their conditions have improved (News, 8
Although ZMapp had not gone through the normal trials, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) approved its use on Tuesday. The drug's
makers said, however, that all supplies of ZMapp had been
exhausted, and that it would take months to build up the necessary
Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), the aid agency of the
Episcopal Church in the US, has been helping to combat the disease
in Liberia and Sierra Leone through local Anglican partners. As
well as providing disinfectant and protective overalls to
hospitals, the agency is also working with Anglican dioceses in
each nation to inform people better about Ebola.
A senior programme officer for ERD, Abiy Seifu, said: "Faith
leaders are respected and listened to by their communities, and can
therefore play an important role. They can help head or promote
education and awareness-raising campaigns to promote change in
Churches in Monrovia have begun offering buckets of chlorinated
water for worshippers to disinfect their hands. In Nigeria, some
Christians are trying to avoid sharing the peace for fear of
catching Ebola, which has killed more than half of those infected
in the current outbreak.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, the Ven. Ebenezer
Adewole, an archdeacon in the Anglican diocese of Lagos West, said
that Christians should focus on both the physical and spiritual
aspects of the crisis.
"There are two sides to the issue. People have to be enlightened
on preventive measures. We also have to ensure that body contact is
reduced as much as possible. But the most important aspect is the
spiritual: believing God for a cure."
While no drug has yet been produced that does cure those
infected with Ebola, Canada has sent almost its entire stockpile of
a vaccine (about 1000 doses) to the WHO to use in West Africa.
The deputy head of the Public Health Agency in Canada said that
the vaccines were a "global resource". Last week, the WHO declared
the Ebola crisis to be a global health emergency.
Dr Kent Brantly, who contracted the disease while working for
Samaritan's Purse, in Liberia, said last Friday that he was
responding well to treatment (News, 8 August). Dr Brantly, who
became infected while treating Ebola patients, is in isolation at a
hospital in the United States. In a statement, he said: "I am
growing stronger every day, and I thank God for his mercy as I have
wrestled with this terrible disease. I held the hands of countless
individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from
them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember
every face and name."
A missionary from Serving in Mission who contracted Ebola in the
same Liberian hospital is also being treated in the same isolation
unit. They both received a dose of an experimental serum while in
Liberia after they were diagnosed. Dr Brantly also received a unit
of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola under his
"One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us
to unexpected places," Dr Brantly said.